While the Australian Communications and Media Authority
(ACMA) thinks calling somebody a wanker is disrespectful, it
won't necessarily breach the Commercial Radio Codes of
Back in May, Joyce wanted to protect Australia by euthanizing
Johnny Depp's dogs. The dogs (and maybe Johnny Depp) could have
rabies. Nek minnit, Joyce was being called a wanker and a gerbil by
Sandilands in a radio interview. Joyce complained to ACMA.
Dismissing Joyce's complaint, ACMA relied on these
provisions in the Code:
Code 1.3(a) - whether the program offended generally accepted
standards of decency; and
Code 9.1(a) - whether the participant in the program was
treated in a highly demeaning or highly exploitative manner.
Does the decision mean every radio host can call Joyce a
Not necessarily. It is all about context. For Code 1.3(a)
breaches, ACMA takes into account the demographics of the
program's audience. ACMA said that Sandilands' regular
audience would understand how the word is used, nonsexually, in the
Australian vernacular (eg: Jarryd is such a wanker ay!). They would
also be accustomed to, and accommodating of, the language used by
Sandilands or, as Joyce put it, the 'number one clown on
radio'. ACMA found that, while some people would have been
offended by the word 'wanker', its colloquial use in the
context of the program was not unsuitable for broadcast.
Code 9.1(a) was introduced a few a years ago to protect children
in the context of live programs. Probably something to do with
Sandilands thinking it was a good idea to submit a 14 year old girl
to a lie detector test live on air (
it wasn't a good idea). However, if an adult participant
consents and is informed about the content there will be no breach.
For Joyce, ACMA didn't even need to look at the issue of
consent because the word 'highly' sets a high threshold for
material to be in breach. Being called a wanker during a political
debate that got a little hairy didn't cross that threshold.
ACMA didn't comment on the amusement factor of listening to
two intellectual giants of the stature of Kyle and Barnaby debating
public policy with four letter words, and neither will we.
We do not disclaim anything about this article. We're
quite proud of it really.
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